Global warming, sea levels on the rise, melting ice caps; and the famous two degrees rising temperature limit! If you (like most people) have been left dazed and confused by the plethora of jargon, industry terminology and mixed messages, today’s post is going to focus on a new firm favourite, the Carbon Footprint.
That being said the point of this article isn’t to debate the pro’s and cons of Carbon Footprints, it’s actually to help you to get ahead of the pack, capitalize and obtain value and clarity when it comes to your business Carbon Footprint.
As discussed in our previous article, the Carbon Tax is now a reality, after years of not having any solid information relating to the tax ( apart from the fact that South Africa made certain commitments at the Paris Agreement on Climate Change), we now know that the tax becomes a reality in June 2019.
A carbon footprint that is conducted annually is generally a part of an organisation governing requirements and, as it’s inclusion in the organisations’ annual reports, is often the most prominent motivating factor for businesses to continuously keep measuring their carbon impact.
As of late though, organisations have started to understand the benefits that come with maintaining a collated non-financial database as both a managerial and reference resource, prompting them to encourage the year on year assessment.
The data assimilated after undertaking a carbon footprint assessment equips companies with comprehensive data that can then be used to benchmark yearly performance standards, along with producing comparative records that can be referenced against competitors performance levels and industry standards, which allows them to identify incompetence within their organisation, and formulate and implement strategies to negate them, resulting in direct cost savings for the business.
Unfortunately, there are limited industry related Carbon Footprint benchmarks available to us. In South Africa, we have the use of the South African National Standards (SANS) 204, which is Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Included in which is the maximum annual consumption for different building classifications in various different climatic zones.
Much of what has been reviewed above only refers to electrical energy, as it often generates the largest and most common portion of the Carbon Footprint which can be identified and addressed, however, it should be taking into consideration that there are various other factors which contribute to a Carbon Footprint, these include all other fuels used by the organisation whether petrol, gas, coal, diesel and so forth. Even the activities and fuel consumption of supplier’s and staff play an active role.
This generally means that a certified Carbon Footprint is frequently one of the only non-fiscal recording tools available to an organisation has in order to recognise its own impact on the environment and provide a means of identifying wherever inefficiencies exist.
Which in turn raised the question of who would assess the Carbon Footprint for your organisation. In this regard, two potential choices exist. The first ( which is not to be undertaken lightly) is to have a member of your organisation trained by a certified training provider, who most certainly has international accreditation to ensure the training they receive falls in line with international standards.
Producing a detailed Carbon Footprint analysis entails recording a large amount of non-financial, annually produced data that can prove difficult to locate and collate, it also requires a detailed interpretation and analysis to ensure the footprint meets the Greenhouse gas protocol, which forms the current industry standard. The benefit of this option is once you have a certified trained member (or members) of staff within your organisation the assimilation and collection of the required data needed to complete an annual Carbon Footprint can be earmarked through the year, making it easily accessible when needed.
The second option is to employ a specialist consultant to undertake the analysis and develop the report for you.
Once the Carbon Footprint has been completed by your organisation it is a good idea to have it verified by an external audit. An external third party, unbiased verification greatly improves the credibility of the assessment. Upon completion, you will receive a statement of verification certifying that your footprint has been audited.
Whilst there is far more to elaborate on in relation to Carbon Footprint Analysis, we hope this article provided some measure of clarity as to the benefit a properly conducted Carbon Footprint can produce for your organisation. Should you want to find out more about being trained to undertake a Carbon Footprint assessment for your organisation, contact Terra Firma Academy on 011 568 0768 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. They run internationally accredited courses nationwide through the year or can arrange to conduct the training in-house at your organisation form groups of ten or more trainees (www.carbonfootprintanalyst.co.za).